Archives for category: Ethics

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the North Texas School Boards Association by Zoom. Right now, Texas is ground zero for the charter industry. This is astonishing because the public schools in Texas far outperform the charter schools. The charter school lobby markets themselves as “saviors” of children, but they are far more likely to fail than public schools. This is a summary of what I told my friends in Texas:

I am a graduate of the Houston public schools. My father, who grew up in Savannah, never finished high school; my mother, who was born in Bessarabia, was very proud of her high school diploma from the Houston public schools.

I believe that all of us, whether or not we have children, whether or not we have children in public school, have a civic obligation to support public schools, just as we must support other public services, like police, firefighting, public roads, public parks, and public libraries. Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society, and no investment is more precious than investing in the education of our children. They are our future. 

Texas, like every other state, guarantees a free public education to everyone. The clause in the state constitution says:

A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

As constitutional scholar Derek Black shows in his book Schoolhouse Burning, the founding fathers of this nation wanted every state to provide free public education. They didn’t have it in their own time, but they saw it as essential to the future of the nation. In the Northwest Ordinance of 1785, the Founders said that any territory that wanted to become a state had to set aside one lot in each town for a tax-supported public school. Not a private academy supported by tax funds, but a tax-supported public school.

The leadership of Texas doesn’t care about the state constitution. Every time the legislature is in session, someone offers a bill to send public funds to religious schools, which are not public schools. Thus far, a coalition of urban Democrats and rural Republicans and the dedicated leadership of Pastors for Texas Children has defeated vouchers.

The Republicans who control the state have substituted charters for vouchers in their eagerness to provide alternatives to the right guaranteed by the state constitution. And they have not given up on vouchers.

Texas now has more than 800 charter schools. These are schools under private management, paid for with tax dollars. Contrary to their marketing strategy, they are not public schools. Some of those charters are part of big corporations, like KIPP or IDEA. Some are nonprofit schools that are managed by for-profit corporations. The GOP leadership wants more of them, even though the existing public schools are underfunded and have not recovered from a devastating budget cut of more than $5 billion in 2011.

When the idea of charter schools first emerged in the early 1990s, I was enthusiastic about their promise. I was in Washington, DC, working as Assistant Secretary of Education for Research in the first Bush administration. We heard from their sponsors that charter schools would be more innovative, would cost less than public schools because of their lack of bureaucracy, would be more successful, and would be more accountable than public schools because they were free of most regulations. 

Three decades later, this is what have we learned: 

   a). Charter schools are not more innovative than public schools. The only innovation associated with charters is harsh disciplinary practices called “No excuses,” where children are punished for minor infractions of strict rules. The largest charter chain in Chicago, the Noble Network, recently announced that it was getting rid of “no excuses” because it is a racist policy, meant to force black children to adopt white middle-class values.  

    b) Charter schools are not more accountable than public schools. In most states, the charter associations fight any effort to impose accountability or transparency. They don’t want to be audited by independent auditors. The only time they are accountable is when they close their doors because of low enrollment or abject academic failure. 

    c) Charter schools do not cost less than public schools. They typically demand the same public funding as public schools, even though the public schools pick up some of their costs, like transportation, and even though they have fewer high-need students than public schools. In some states, like Texas, charter schools get more public money than public schools.

    d) Charter schools are less effective than public schools. Those that have high test scores choose their students and families carefully and push out those they don’t want. On average they don’t outperform public schools, and they spend more money on administration than public schools. In some states, like Ohio, the majority of charter schools are rated D or F. 

Charters are unstable. They open and close like day lilies. Sometimes in mid-semester, leaving their students stranded.

The worst charter schools are the virtual schools. 

The state pays the cybercharters full tuition to provide nothing more than a computer, a remote teacher, and some textbooks. They charge double or triple their actual costs.

Virtual charter schools have high attrition rates, low graduation rates, and low test scores.

There have been huge scandals associated with virtual charter schools.

In Ohio, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow collected close to a billion dollars over 18 years. It was started by a businessman, who made generous contributions to political leaders. It had one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation. In 2017, ECOT was audited by the state and found to have collected tuition for phantom students. Rather than pay the state $80 million, ECOT declared bankruptcy in 2018. No one was fined, no one went to prison, no one was held accountable.

The biggest scandal in charter history was the A3 virtual charter chain. It had a massive scheme to enroll fake students. Eleven people were indicted. Eventualy, the leaders of A3 agreed to repay the state $215 million.

The largest of the virtual charters is K12 Inc; it is registered on NY Stock Exchange. Its results are familiar: high attrition, low test scores, low graduation rates. Their top executives are paid millions of dollars each. K12 is are operating in dozens of states.

Poor academic performance is not punished; financial fraud is not punished. There is no accountability. 

IDEA in Texas is in a class of its own when it comes to luxuries. They get hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars, but they decided they needed to lease a private jet for their executives. When the story got into the newspapers, they dropped that idea. The media also reported that IDEA bought season tickets for special seating at San Antonio Spurs games. When the CEO decided to retire, he received a $1 million golden parachute. How many school superintendents do you know who got such a generous going-away present?

Charter schools claim that they “save poor kids from failing schools.” 

That’s not true. There are currently some 356,000 students in charter schools in Texas. Three-quarters of them are enrolled in charter schools in A or B school districts. The charter school students are being drawn away from successful schools in successful districts.

The charter lobby claims that there are long waiting lists. Don’t believe it. The so-called wait lists are manufactured. They are never audited. In Los Angeles, at least 80% of the existing charters have empty seats, yet still the lobbyists talk about wait lists. In New York City, charters buy advertising on city buses. When you have a waiting list, you don’t buy advertising.

The charter industry in Texas has a number of charter expansions already approved and expects to grow by 50,000 students every year. Unless the legislature plans to increase spending on education, charter growth will mean budget cuts for public schools. Charters in Texas currently divert $3 billion a year from public schools. Since they started, they have diverted more than $20 billion that should have gone to the state’s public schools. 

Charter schools in Texas are not more successful than public schools. Texas researcher William Gumbert reported that 86% of public school districts are rated either A or B by the state, compared to 58.6% of charter schools. Only 2.6% of public school districts were rated D or F, compared to 17.7% of charter schools.  

Texas Public Radio reported that graduation rates at charter schools were 30 points lower than the rates at public high schools. 

Two economists—Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer—studied the outcomes of charter schools in Texas. They concluded that charter schools have “no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings.”

William Gumbert, an independent analyst in Texas, has calculated that graduates of charter schools enter college less well prepared and are less likely to perform well in college, compared to students who went to public schools. He reported that the 2019 state ratings showed nearly 40% of charters approved by the state have been closed. 

The charters claim that they can close historic achievement gaps between children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. This is not true. According to careful research by analyst Gumbert, public schools do a better job of narrowing the achievement gaps between black and white students and between Hispanic and white students than charters in the same districts. 

Again, using state records, Gumbert found that graduates of public schools were more successful in college than graduates of charter schools. Public school graduates were more likely to have a higher grade-point average in freshman year than charter school graduates. First-year grade-point average has been shown to predict college graduation. 

Now the charter industry is lobbying for a vast expansion in Texas. They don’t want to have to deal with elected school boards or other elected officials. Democracy is a nuisance, an obstacle. So they are promoting SB 28, which would remove any elected school boards or elected municipal officials from the charter approval process. The state board of education could veto a charter application only with a supermajority. Only one appointed state official—the State Commissioner, appointed by the Governor– would decide whether charters may invade your district, recruit the students they want and locate the charter school wherever they want. That is a major blow to local control of schools. 

Why are state officials in Texas, why is the Legislature, opposed to local control of schools?

After three decades of experience, we have learned about the policies and practices of charter corporations.

First, many charter schools are run by non-educators. They see a business opportunity and they compete for market share. 

Second, they market charter schools by making extravagant claims. They promise that their students will be successful in school and will go to college even before they open their doors. As we have seen, this is usually false.

Third, the few that get high test scores do so by cherry-picking their students or by setting the standards so high that only high-scoring students choose to enroll. BASIS is an example of that. Students have to pass a certain number of AP exams to graduate, so average students need not apply. In Arizona, where most of the state’s students are Hispanic or Native American, the BASIS schools enroll mostly white and Asian students.

Fourth, some charter schools raise test scores by pushing out students who get low scores. That means excluding students with disabilities and students who don’t speak or read English. It also means counseling out or finding creative ways to discourage the kids who are discipline problems or the kids who perform poorly on tests. The most successful charter chain in NYC accepts kids by lottery in kindergarten. Then they begin weeding out those they don’t want, and after third grade, no new students are accepted. By senior year, most of the students who started in K or first grade have disappeared

Fifth, charter schools typically hire young and inexperienced teachers who cost less than older experienced teachers. The turnover is high—sometimes as much as half the staff leaves every year and is replaced by newcomers to teaching. 

Sixth, the true secret of charter expansion is the money behind them. They are supported by a long list of billionaires who want to eliminate public schools. They mock our community schools as “government schools,” but they might as well mock our community police officers as “government security agents.” Our community public schools belong to “we, the people.” We pay for them with our taxes. They reflect our community history. They have the trophies that our parents, our cousins, our aunts and uncles won at football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, chess, and debate tournaments. They are audited and overseen by our neighbors. We elect the school board, and if we don’t agree with their decisions, we elect another one. 

Don’t give your public dollars to entrepreneurs and corporations to educate your children. 

Don’t replace your public schools with a free market where schools compete for customers. Markets produce winners and losers, not equality of educational opportunity. Use your tax dollars to make your public schools the best they can be for all the children.

Whatever your political views are, these schools belong to you, not to Wall Street or libertarian billionaires or opportunists. Tell your legislators to support your public schools. 

School choice means that the schools choose.

Public schools must take everyone. 

School choice is a hoax.

Don’t fund failure.

At a time when there are so many divisions in our society, we need our public schools to teach appreciation for our common heritage as Americans and as Texans.

I especially appeal to those with conservative values: Conservative conserve. Conservatives don’t blow up traditional institutions. People who want to blow up community institutions are anarchists, not conservatives.

Preserve and improve your community public schools for future generations. 

You may recall that the Oklahoma State Board of Education recently voted 4-3 to allow charter schools to share in local tax revenues, over the opposition of State Commissioner Joy Hofmeister, who said that the decision might violate state law. You may also recall that the virtual charter school in Oklahoma called EPIC has been embroiled in scandal after scandal (just google “Oklahoma EPIC scandal” and you will get lots of references to allegations of theft, embezzlement, ghost students, etc.). For example, in fall 2020, the state auditor reported that EPIC owes the state $8.9 million for inaccurate reporting, improper transfer of funds, and a multitude of other egregious (you might say “epic”) calculations. That $8.9 million was the tip of a very large iceberg. The state auditor said that about 1 of every 4 dollars that the state paid to EPIC (a total of $458 million) was deposited as profit by the school’s owners. The story is breathtaking.

The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee (PLAC) posted this on its Facebook page:


Oklahoma PLAC
  Facebook post:

TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY??? 🔎 Where art thou?

We’re wondering why State Board of Education member Jennifer Monies did not recuse herself during last week’s vote to settle a lawsuit that directly benefited another entity of which she serves as board member. She is both plaintiff and defendant in this case yet she still cast a vote. 

“On numerous occasions in the board’s public meetings, Monies has mentioned her service on the board of her son’s school, John Rex Charter Elementary in Oklahoma City, which would stand to benefit from the settlement and which is listed as a member of the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association on the organizations’ website.”

And another tragic Farce

EPIC Charter Schools named Charter School of the Year by Choice Matters

Fiorina Rodov wanted to teach, and, as she writes, she believed the glowing claims about charter schools as beacons of hope for the neediest students. She saw “Waiting for ‘Superman'” and cheered for the kids who wanted to get into a charter. She believed the movie’s hype about the magic of charters. So she got in 2016 a job teaching in a charter school in Los Angeles.

There she learned the truth about charter schools, or at least the one where she was teaching.

The school was non-union. Teacher turnover was high every year. Student attrition was high.

But the chasm between the hype and reality became evident to me immediately upon starting work. There were high attrition rates of students and teachers. Over the summer, more than half the faculty resigned and were replaced by new teachers. About three-quarters of the students hadn’t returned either, and though new kids had registered, the enrollment wasn’t anywhere near what was needed in order to be fiscally stable, because funding was tied to enrollment. There were legal violations: The special education teacher had 43 students, though the law capped class sizes at 28. The overage made him fall behind on students’ individualized education plans (IEPs), making the school noncompliant on special education requirements.

Rodov also learned about the big-money forces promoting the charter myth. She was in L.A. for the election campaign between charter skeptic Steve Zimmer (chair of the LAUSD school board and former TFA) and charter zealot Nick Melvoin. The charter leaders across the city strongly supported Melvoin, of course.

I learned that billionaires fund local school board elections across America in order to accelerate charter school growth. In District 4 in Los Angeles, Steve Zimmer was financed by teachers’ unions while Nick Melvoin was reportedly bankrolled by California billionaires Eli Broad, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, and Gap clothing company co-founder Doris Fisher, as well as out-of-towners like former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Walmart heirs and siblings Jim and Alice Walton, and others in an expensive race...

Furthermore, CCSA [California Charter Schools Association] Advocates donated to an organization called Speak UP, which was a “strong opponent” of Zimmer, according to the Los Angeles Times, and whose co-founder and CEO Katie Braude resides in the Pacific Palisades, where the median home price is about $3.4 million. Braude helped launch the Palisades Charter School Complex, which sought to serve “all students in an ethnically and economically diverse student body,” according to her bio on the Speak UP website. But at Palisades Charter High School, “[w]hite students are 2.8 times as likely to be enrolled in at least one AP class as Black students,” while “Black students are 7 times as likely to be suspended as [w]hite students,” according to ProPublica. In 2016 and 2017, Black students were victims of hate crimes at Palisades Charter High School, and in 2020, a Black teacher sued the school for racial discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” According to the Pacific Palisades Patch, Pamela Magee, the school’s executive director and principal, responded to the teacher’s allegations via email, “PCHS is an equal opportunity employer, and we take allegations of discrimination seriously…”

Melvoin’s list of individual donations, according to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, is filled with some of the same moguls who donated to CCSA Advocates, such as Eli Broad and Reed Hastings. It also includes then-co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios Alan F. Horn, president of the Emerson Collective Laurene Powell Jobs, and Martha L. Karsh and her husband Bruce Karsh, who at the time of the election was the chair of the Tribune Media Company, which then owned the Los Angeles Times. (Bruce Karsh stepped down from the Tribune in October 2017, five months after the school board election.)

The billionaires who fund school board races across the country also finance education reporting. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which was partly behind a $490 million plan reported in 2015 to enroll half of LAUSD’s students in charters by 2023, funded the Los Angeles Times’ reporting initiative Education Matters with the Baxter Family Foundation and the Wasserman Foundation, which also support charters. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Amazon (whose founder and former CEO—now executive chairman—Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post) fund the Seattle Times’ Education Lab. The Bezos Family Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, fund Chalkbeat. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation fund Education Week and The 74, which owns the LA School Report. The Gates Foundation finances the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), whose “Fixes” column in the New York Times covers education and other issues. And Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective owns the Atlantic, which has a robust education section.

The infusion of billionaire cash and media ownership helps to explain why the mainstream media seldom reports on the failures of charter schools or expose their lies and propaganda.

Rodov goes on to explain that her school was finally closed, but no one in the mainstream media in Los Angeles bothered to interview teachers about “the climate of terror at the school.”

She ends with the hope that Biden’s election will mean an end to favoritism towards charter schools and a beginning of focus on public schools, which are a vital democratic institution.

Those of us who are sick of charter school lies and propaganda share her hope. We will know in time whether Biden will keep his promise to cut off federal funding of for-profit charters, whether he will eliminate the $440 million federal Charter Schools Program (which Betsy DeVos used as her private slush fund), and whether he will make the strengthening of public schools his top education priority. Six percent of America’s students attend charter schools, and they are the darling of billionaires like Bill Gates, Reed Hastings, Laurene Powell Jobs, Charles Koch, Michael Bloomberg, and many more (I wrote a chapter in my recent book Slaying Goliath naming the billionaires and corporations that pour money into charter schools). Let the billionaires pay for them.

 

This story has justifiably gotten a lot of national attention. Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City, Texas, resigned after posting the following message on his Facebook page. He has a philosophy of sink or swim. That Government has no responsibility to help you when the power goes out and the temperature goes below freezing. Surviving is your problem.

That worldview sounds like it derives from the late Rush Limbaugh. It is certainly not consonant with the core values embedded in the Holy Bible. I’m guessing ex-Mayor Boyd considers himself a Christian. From what I know of the words of Jesus, he taught love and kindness for one’s neighbors, not indifference.

For non-Christians, there is another source for believing that government has an obligation to help its citizens: the United States Constitution, which begins: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

”Providing for the general welfare” is a commitment that society makes to its citizens.

And then there’s the basic fact that the government in most parts of this country does control the power grid and the water supply. Texans should rightly hold their state government responsible for the lack of both. Individuals and families can burn wood in their fireplaces, if they have one, and they can draw water from a well, but most people don’t have a well. People in civilized societies pay taxes so the government will protect them, build roads, supply electrical power and potable water, provide free public education, and do those things that individuals can’t do for themselves.

When their lives are at risk because of a natural disaster, they rightly turn to government for help. At times of overwhelming crisis, only government has the resources and personnel (think National Guard) to save lives.

This is what ex-Mayor Boyd wrote, along with his sort-of apology:

ORIGINAL FACEBOOK MESSAGE (since deleted):

Let me hurt some feelings while I have a minute!!

No one owes you are (sic) your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout! If you don’t have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal without and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family. If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your (sic) lazy is direct result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish (sic). Folks God has given us the tools to support ourselves in times like this. This is sadly a product of socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW will work and others will become dependent for handouts. Am I sorry that you have been dealing without electricity and water; yes! But I’ll be damned if I’m going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves! We have lost sight of those in need and those that take advantage of the system and meshed them in to one group!! Bottom line quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!

Bottom line – DONT (sic) A PART OF PROBLEM, BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION!!

APOLOGY

All, I have set back and watched all this escalating and have tried to keep my mouth shut! I won’t deny for one minute what I said in my post this morning. Believe me when I say that many of the things I said were taken out of context and some of which were said without putting much thought in to it. I would never want to hurt the elderly or anyone that is in true need of help to be left to fend for themselves. I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout. I apologize for the wording and some of the phrases that were used! I had already turned in my resignation and had not signed up to run for mayor again on the deadline that was February 12th! I spoke some of this out of the anger that the city and county was catching for situations which were out of their control. Please understand if I had it to do over again I would have just kept my words to myself and if I did say them I would have used better wording and been more descriptive.

The anger and harassment you have caused my wife and family is so undeserved….my wife was laid off of her job based off the association people gave to her and the business she worked for. She’s a very good person and was only defending me! But her to have to get fired from her job over things I said out of context is so horrible. I admit, there are things that are said all the time that I don’t agree with; but I would never harass you or your family to the point that they would lose there livelihood such as a form of income.

I ask that you each understand I never meant to speak for the city of Colorado City or Mitchell county! I was speaking as a citizen as I am NOT THE MAYOR anymore. I apologize for the wording and ask that you please not harass myself or my family anymore!

Threatening our lives with comments and messages is a horrible thing to have to wonder about. I won’t share any of those messages from those names as I feel they know who they are and hope after they see this they will retract the hateful things they have said!

Thank you

Tim Boyd(citizen)

Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu interviewed people who were in the “room where it happened,” the meeting where Trump’s lawyers duked it out with conspiracy theorists in the White House on December 18. Their account of the meeting is gripping.

Four conspiracy theorists marched into the Oval Office. It was early evening on Friday, Dec. 18 — more than a month after the election had been declared for Joe Biden, and four days after the Electoral College met in every state to make it official.

“How the hell did Sidney get in the building?” White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann grumbled from the outer Oval Office as Sidney Powell and her entourage strutted by to visit the president. 

President Trump’s private schedule hadn’t included appointments for Powell or the others: former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, and a little-known former Trump administration official, Emily Newman. But they’d come to convince Trump that he had the power to take extreme measures to keep fighting. 

As Powell and the others entered the Oval Office that evening, Herschmann — a wealthy business executive and former partner at Kasowitz Benson & Torres who’d been pulled out of quasi-retirement to advise Trump — quietly slipped in behind them.

The hours to come would pit the insurgent conspiracists against a handful of White House lawyers and advisers determined to keep the president from giving in to temptation to invoke emergency national security powers, seize voting machines and disable the primary levers of American democracy.

The Axios’ story is a dramatic account of a turning point that led to the Insurrection on January 6 and the second impeachment of Trump for inciting sedition.

The New York Times published a dramatic account of the 77 days in which Trump and his faithful allies planned and plotted to overturn the election he lost. I hope you can open the article. It’s Kong and well-worth the time to read. Trump has a faithful base of people who will believe anything he says, no matter how far-fetched, no evidence necessary. One thing they all have in common: they are ignorant about our Constitution and the norms of our democracy.

l

Our democracy is in peril. A significant number of GOP senators oppose any accountability for a president who invited violent terrorists to attack the U.S. Capitol, vandalize it, and threaten the lives of Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress.

Two members of the House of Representatives belong to QAnon, the group that believes Trump was battling a Satanic ring of pedophiles.

One of the QAnon members, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, posted or liked tweets that called for the assasination of leading members of Congress.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress, a CNN KFile review of hundreds of posts and comments from Greene’s Facebook page shows.

Mass insanity or just a handful of unhinged zealots?


Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.


And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.


But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.
“

He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”


Even as he did so, Trump did not move to act. And the message from those around him — that he needed to call off the angry mob he had egged on just hours earlier, or lives could be lost — was one to which he was not initially receptive.


“It took him awhile to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” Graham said in an interview. “The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”


Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to “go home in peace.” But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed — more passive viewer than resolute leader, repeatedly failing to perform even the basic duties of his job.




Capitol Police were unable to stop a breach of the Capitol.


The man who vowed to be a president of law and order failed to enforce the law or restore order. The man who has always seen himself as the protector of uniformed police sat idly by as Capitol Police officers were outnumbered, outmaneuvered, trampled on — and in one case, killed. And the man who had long craved the power of the presidency abdicated many of the responsibilities of the commander in chief.


The episode in which Trump supporters rose up against their own government, leaving five people dead, will be central to any impeachment proceedings, critical to federal prosecutors considering incitement charges against him or his family, and a dark cornerstone of his presidential legacy.


This portrait of the president as the Capitol was under attack on Jan. 6 is the result of interviews with 15 Trump advisers, members of Congress, GOP officials and other Trump confidants, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details.




The day began ominously, with a “Save America March” on the Ellipse devoted to perpetuating Trump’s baseless claims that somehow the 2020 election was stolen from him.


Before the president’s remarks around noon, several of his family members addressed the crowd with speeches that all shared a central theme: Fight. Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, told the crowd that lawmakers needed to “show some fight” and “stand up,” before urging the angry mass to “march on the Capitol today.” Donald Trump Jr., another of the president’s sons, exhorted all “red-blooded, patriotic Americans” to “fight for Trump.”


Backstage, as the president prepared to speak, Laura Branigan’s hit “Gloria” was blared to rev up the crowd, and Trump Jr., in a video he recorded for social media, called the rallygoers “awesome patriots that are sick of the bull—-.” His girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, danced to the song and, clenching her right fist, urged people to “fight.”




The president, too, ended his speech with an exhortation, urging the crowd to give Republicans “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”


“So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he concluded.



Trump, however, did not join the angry crowd surging toward the Capitol. Instead, he returned to the White House, where at 2:24 p.m. he tapped out a furious tweet railing against Vice President Pence, who in a letter earlier in the day had made clear that he planned to fulfill his constitutional duties and certify President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris as the winners of the 2020 electoral college vote.


“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” he wrote. “USA demands the truth!”


By then, West Wing staffers monitoring initial videos of the protesters on TV and social media were already worried that the situation was escalating and felt that Trump’s tweet attacking Pence was unhelpful.




Press officials had begun discussing a statement from Trump around 2 p.m., when protesters first breached the Capitol, an official familiar with the discussions said. But they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the president and could only take the matter to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, this person said, adding that “the most infuriating part” of the day was how long it took before Trump finally spoke out.




Around the same time, Trump Jr. headed to the airport for a shuttle flight home to New York. As he waited in an airport lounge to board the plane, the president’s namesake son saw that the rally­goers they had all urged to fight were doing just that, breaching police barricades and laying siege to the Capitol.


An aide called Trump Jr. and suggested he immediately issue a statement urging the rioters to stop. At 2:17 p.m., Trump Jr. hit send on a tweet as he boarded the plane: “This is wrong and not who we are,” he wrote. “Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side. We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone.”


But the president himself was busy enjoying the spectacle. Trump watched with interest, buoyed to see that his supporters were fighting so hard on his behalf, one close adviser said.


But if the president didn’t appear to understand the magnitude of the crisis, those in his orbit did. Conway immediately called a close personal aide who she knew was with the president, and said she was adding her name to the chorus of people urging Trump to speak to his supporters. He needed to tell them to stand down and leave the Capitol, she told the aide.


Conway also told the aide that she had received calls from the D.C. mayor’s office asking for help in getting Trump to call up the National Guard.


Ivanka Trump had gone to the Oval Office as soon as the riot became clear, and Graham reached her on her cellphone and implored her for help. “They were all trying to get him to speak out, to tell everyone to leave,” said Graham, referring to the small group of aides with Trump on Wednesday afternoon.




Several Republican members of Congress also called White House aides, begging them to get Trump’s attention and have him call for the violence to end. The lawmakers reiterated that they had been loyal Trump supporters and were even willing to vote against the electoral college results — but were now scared for their lives, officials said.




When the mob first breached the Capitol, coming within mere seconds of entering the Senate chamber, Pence — who was overseeing the electoral certification — was hustled away to a secure location, where he remained for the duration of the siege, despite multiple suggestions from his Secret Service detail that he leave the Capitol, said an official familiar with Pence’s actions that day.
Instead, the vice president fielded calls from congressional leaders furious that the National Guard had not yet been deployed, this official said. Pence, from his secret location in the Capitol, spoke with legislative and military leaders, working to mobilize the soldiers and offering reassurance.


Even as his supporters at the Capitol chanted for Pence to be hanged, Trump never called the vice president to check on him or his family. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, eventually called the White House to let them know that Pence and his team were okay, after receiving no outreach from the president or anyone else in the White House.
Meanwhile, in the West Wing, a small group of aides — including Ivanka Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Meadows — was imploring Trump to speak out against the violence. Meadows’s staff had prompted him to go see the president, with one aide telling the chief of staff before he entered the Oval Office, “They are going to kill people.”


Shortly after 2:30 p.m., the group finally persuaded Trump to send a tweet: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” he wrote. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”




But the Twitter missive was insufficient, and the president had not wanted to include the final instruction to “stay peaceful,” according to one person familiar with the discussions.


Less than an hour later, aides persuaded Trump to send a second, slightly more forceful tweet: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” he wrote. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”


’You’re very special’


McCarthy did eventually reach Trump, but later told allies that he found the president distracted. So McCarthy repeatedly appeared on television to describe the mayhem, an adviser said, in an effort to explain just how dire the situation was.


McCarthy also called Kushner, who that afternoon was arriving back from a trip to the Middle East. The Secret Service originally warned Kushner that it was unsafe to venture downtown to the White House. McCarthy pleaded with him to persuade Trump to issue a statement for his supporters to leave the Capitol, saying he’d had no luck during his own conversation with Trump, the adviser said. So Kushner headed to the White House.


At one point, Trump worried that the unruly group was frightening GOP lawmakers from doing his bidding and objecting to the election results, an official said.


National security adviser Robert C. O’Brien also began calling members of Congress to ask how he could help. He called Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) around 4 p.m., a Lee spokesman said. In an unlikely twist, Lee had heard from the president earlier — when he accidentally dialed the senator in a bid to reach Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to discuss overturning the election.




Others were still having trouble getting through to the White House. Speaking on ABC News shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, Chris Christie, a GOP former governor of New Jersey, said he’d spent the last 25 minutes trying to reach Trump directly to convey a simple, if urgent, message.


“The president caused this protest to occur; he’s the only one who can make it stop,” Christie said. “The president has to come out and tell his supporters to leave the Capitol grounds and to allow the Congress to do their business peacefully. And anything short of that is an abdication of his responsibility.”
Around this time, the White House was preparing to put out a video address on behalf of the president. They had begun discussing this option earlier but struggled to organize their effort. Biden, meanwhile, stepped forward with remarks that seemed to rise to the occasion: “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America, do not represent who we are.”




Trump aides did three takes of the video and chose the most palatable option — despite some West Wing consternation that the president had called the violent protesters “very special.”


“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump said in the video, released shortly after 4 p.m. “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.”




Amid the chaos, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) had implemented a 6 p.m. curfew for the city, and as darkness fell, the Secret Service told West Wing staff that, save for an essential few, everyone had to leave the White House and go home.


At 6:01 p.m., Trump blasted out yet another tweet, which Twitter quickly deleted and which many in his orbit were particularly furious about, fearing he was further inflaming the still-tense situation.


“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so ­unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump wrote. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”


Thirteen minutes later, at 6:14 p.m., a perimeter was finally established around the Capitol. About 8 p.m., more than six hours after the initial breach, the Capitol was declared secure.


The following evening, on Thursday, Trump released another video, the closest advisers say he is likely to come to a concession speech.
“Congress has certified the results: A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th,” Trump said in the video. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”


His calls for healing and reconciliation were more than a day too late, many aides said. Yet as Trump watched the media coverage of his video, he grew angry.
The president said he wished he hadn’t done it, a senior White House official said, because he feared that the calming words made him look weak.

As we learned in the recording of his outrageous conversation with the Georgia Secretary of State, Trump will stop at nothing in his crazed efforts to cling to his office. He has lost interest in governing, but not in ruling. His base believes whatever claptrap he spews. Some theorize that it was Trump who released the recording of the conversation where he bullied Brad Raffensperger and tried to persuade him to “find” enough votes to reverse the results in Georgia. The recording allowed him to get all his nutty conspiracy theories into the public space, magnified by massive coverage. Since Georgia’s electoral votes would not be enough to change the outcome of the election, we can safely assume that Trump had similar conversations with state election officials in other states. He doesn’t seem to understand that the election is over. The votes were counted and recounted. The Electoral College met, and Biden won. The process on January 6 is supposed to be ceremonial not consequential. Trump’s surrogates sued to try to give the Vice-President the power to overturn the duly certified slates of electors and recognize alternate pro-Trump slates instead, but that lawsuit was dismissed in Texas by a federal judge appointed by Trump; when it was appealed to the Federal Appeals Court, a three-judge panel (all appointed by Republican presidents) affirmed the lower court decision to toss out the lawsuit.

However, Politico says that the call was recorded and released by the Georgia Secretary of State, for his own protection. He was burned once before by Lindsay Graham. Let’s give credit where credit is due: Secretary of State Raffensperger, a lifetime Republican, refused to be cowed by Graham; he refused to be cowed by Trump. He stood strong for election integrity, despite the pressure. He is an American hero.

Here is the full recording and transcript.

Politico wrote:

The story of the extraordinary call of a president pushing a top election official to rig the Georgia results was broken by the superb reporting of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein and the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner, but the backstory is almost as interesting.

It started on Saturday when Trump and his team reached out to talk to Raffensperger, who, according to an adviser, felt he would be unethically pressured by the president. Raffensperger had been here before: In November he accused Trump ally and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham of improperly exhorting him to meddle in the election to help Trump win Georgia. Graham later denied it.

So why not record the call with the president, Raffensperger’s advisers thought, if nothing else for fact-checking purposes. “This is a man who has a history of reinventing history as it occurs,” one of them told Playbook. “So if he’s going to try to dispute anything on the call, it’s nice to have something like this, hard evidence, to dispute whatever he’s claiming about the secretary. Lindsey Graham asked us to throw out legally cast ballots. So yeah, after that call, we decided maybe we should do this.”

The call took place Saturday afternoon. “Mr. President,” announced Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, at the top of the call, “everyone is on the line.” Little did he know. Trump made his ask and did most of the talking for the next hour, trafficking in the same conspiracy theories about election fraud that no court or criminal investigator has found credible. At the end of the call, Trump complains, “What a schmuck I was.”

Raffensperger’s team kept quiet about the call and the recording and waited. The president made the next move, claiming on Sunday morning via Twitter that Raffensperger was “unwilling, or unable, to answer” questions about his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true,” Raffensperger replied at 10:27 a.m. “The truth will come out.” It wasn’t an empty promise.

Now the best that Trump can hope for is to draw thousands of his rabid, armed supporters to the Capitol to threaten others and to create chaos. This won’t change the outcome of the election, unless Trump invokes the nineteenth-century Insurrection Act and declares martial law.

The Boston Globe published this editorial:

For worried residents of the District of Columbia, President Trump’s flailing efforts to overturn the results of a free and fair election that he lost no longer seem quite so funny. With the prospect of unrest in the nation’s capital when Trump’s loss is formalized on Wednesday, Republicans have run out of excuses for continuing to indulge Trump’s anti-democratic rants.

Not a single state or federal court has accepted the preposterous conspiracy theories floated by Trump and his supporters to explain his loss, ranging from zany stories of North Koreans smuggling ballots into Maine to supposed Sharpie malfunctions in Arizona. No election has been as thoroughly scrutinized as the 2020 vote, and even Trump’s own Justice Department acknowledges it couldn’t find any serious fraud, much less the vast plots of Trump’s imagination.


To their credit, state Republican officials in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and other states rejected those fictions. National Republicans, from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on down, have (belatedly) also acknowledged Joe Biden as the victor. In fact, the election wasn’t especially close: Democratic candidate Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes, and with an Electoral College margin identical to Trump’s 2016 victory.Get Today in Opinion in your inboxGlobe Opinion’s must-reads, delivered to you every Sunday-Friday. Enter EmailSign Up

But the president remains immersed in his conspiratorial fantasyland, careening from one delusional idea to another, apparently in hopes that one fringe theory will finally pay off, a deus ex whackina that changes the ending of the 2020 election.

And on Wednesday, when Congress meets to formally certify Biden’s victory, Trump has called for his supporters to descend on Washington for a protest he said would be “wild.”

Of course, protesting is any American’s right. But especially considering the way the last gathering of Trump supporters in Washington descended into violence, lawmakers need to stop giving oxygen to his efforts and firmly reject expected challenges to the vote-certifying on Wednesday. Trump’s fellow Republicans have mostly indulged him by treating his complaints as plausibly legitimate. But that’s only emboldened what would otherwise be a crackpot fringe. By doing so, they’re risking a greater likelihood of trouble on the streets of Washington in the short term, and more lasting damage to trust in democracy in the long term.



Certifying an election is a ministerial job, not a policy decision; it’s not Congress’s job on Wednesday to say whether they like the results of an election or the way that states conducted their votes. Still, if even a single House member and a single senator object to a state’s electoral votes, it triggers a mandatory two-hour debate in Congress and then a vote on whether to accept the state’s votes. As of Saturday, eleven GOP senators and senators-elect had pledged to join House members in objecting to some states’ electoral votes. Trump and his supporters had been pushing members of Congress to object to states Biden won, and demanding that Vice President Mike Pence — who will preside over the count in a ceremonial capacity — switch Biden states to Trump, which he does not have the power to do. (In another dead-end lawsuit, some GOP lawmakers tried to change the law dating back to the 19th century to give Pence the authority to override voters.)

Seeking to avoid a debacle, McConnell lobbied Republican senators not to raise objections to Biden’s victories, apparently unsuccessfully. Meanwhile, according to a top aide, Pence supports the GOP lawmakers’ egregious plan to legitimize the president’s conspiracy theories on the floor of Congress.

Ever since election day, Republicans have generally defended Trump’s challenges to the outcome as within his legal rights. Likewise, insisting on a floor debate on individual states’ presidential votes is perfectly legal. But what is legally permissible and what is right for a polarized and frazzled country aren’t the same.

The country needs to turn the page not just on Trump, but also the toxic brand of conspiracism that he’s mainstreamed into American politics. That won’t be easy. But members of Congress ought to do their part by publicly rejecting Trump’s conspiracy-laced demands to subvert the electoral count, and recognizing Biden’s clear victory. Those who do not don’t deserve to be in public office in a democracy.

So you thought the election was over after Joe Biden won the vote of the Electoral College on December 14, as predicted, by 306-232. And perhaps you thought it was over when Mitch McConnell finally congratulated Biden after the Electoral College voted and called him the President-Elect.

But: Trump is continuing his hapless campaign to reverse the election, despite the fact that his claims of fraud were rejected more than 50 times in state and federal courts and twice by the Supreme Court. Stephen Miller said that the election was not finished, that several states had prepared their own slates of Trump electors who would take their case to Congress, and that the decision about the presidency would not be finished until January 20, Inauguration Day. George Conway of the Lincoln Project told Anderson Cooper on CNN that Trump was behaving as he is for three reasons: 1) he is delusional; 2) he is scamming his followers by raising money for himself (whoever heard of a billionaire appealing for $5?); 3) he is malevolent.

Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post about the hypocrisy of certain rightwing “leaders” who support Trump’s ridiculous claim that the election was “stolen.”

Gerson wrote about the assault on democracy by conservative leaders, who are enabling Trump’s delusional behavior:

“It was stolen,” said conservative luminary William Bennett on a recent podcast. “The election was stolen.”


In a Dec. 10 open letter, a group of conservative stalwarts — including activist Gary Bauer, former senator and former president of the Heritage Foundation James DeMint, and head of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins — alleged that “President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election.” They called on state legislators in battleground states to “appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump” and urged the House and Senate to reject competing slates reflecting the actual vote.


For some of us, watching prominent conservatives turn against rationality and democracy is not just disappointing; it is disorienting...

The intellectual bankruptcy and moral hypocrisy of many conservative leaders is stunning. People who claimed to favor limited government now applaud Trump’s use of the executive branch to undermine an election. A similar attempt by Barack Obama would have brought comparisons to Fidel Castro. People who talked endlessly about respecting the Constitution affirm absurd slanders against the constitutional order. People who claimed to be patriots now spread false claims about their country’s fundamental corruption. People who talked of honoring the rule of law now jerk and gyrate according to the whims of a lawless leader.

These conservative leaders no longer deserve the assumption of sincerity. They are spreading conspiratorial lies so unlikely and irrational, they must know them to be lies.

Gerson questions their motives for their immoral claims. Is it cynicism? Fear? A will to power? Why accept blatant lies? Why attack the foundation of democracy, which is free and fair elections? Why defend a would-be tyrant?

Perhaps these conservative leaders view democracy as a secondary concern, compared with the broader crisis of Western civilization. Maybe resisting the impending arrival of cultural and economic Marxism requires conservatives to use whatever means are necessary — including the invalidation of a valid election.
This justification — “by any means necessary” — may be the least conservative arrangement of letters in the English language.

Traditional conservatives have regarded such ideas as the path to tyranny, the highway to the guillotine. This approach assumes an emergency that does not actually exist. Are the barbarian hordes really arriving under the brutal, pitiless direction of . . . Joe Biden? Will the rescue of civilization from decadence really be accomplished under the courageous moral leadership of . . . Donald Trump?


Conservatism is supposed to produce the best of citizens — lawful, loyal and respectful of the Constitution. In some quarters, it is now producing the worst — fractious, resentful and cynical. A large portion of the responsibility rests on conservative leaders, who have sold their convictions cheap.

Arthur Camins has had a fruitful career as a teacher, science educator, and technology expert. He writes here about the kind of education he hopes his grandchildren will have.

He begins:

Persistent inequity and underfunding, especially after decades of emphasis on test-based accountability and privatization, largely unopposed increases in racial and socioeconomic segregation, and four years of leadership by an active opponent of public education bring us to a moment of choice for K-12 public education in the United States: Change or give up on the needs of most of America’s children.

I usually write what I hope are persuasive essays about education policy and other social justice issues. However, the divisiveness of the last election demonstrates that we can’t argue or campaign our way to lasting fundamental change through presidential elections.  The change we need begins with building relationships through shared multiracial conversation and struggle.  

Today, I offer my hopes for my two grandchildren and the rest of the children with whom they will grow up and live as adults. Maybe these can be conversation starters with others about their own hopes.  That is what I think we need to do so that we can work together to push for our hopes for America’s children in the coming years no matter who serves as America’s chief education officer.  

I hope they will go to schools where they and their classmates are cared for, known, valued, and respected.

I hope they will experience and learn empathy and respect and that their circleextends across our great diversity to encompass all people.

Please read the rest of the article.

What are your hopes and dreams for your children?